Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant and businessman becomes the first elected Black mayor of Colorado Springs after he defeated Wayne Williams on Tuesday night in the city’s runoff contest in what can only be described as a stunning turn of events.
Political veteran and former Secretary of State Wayne Williams conceded the Colorado Springs mayoral runoff to the political newcomer not long after the polls closed Tuesday night.
Mobolade had received 57% of the vote to Williams’ 43% as of 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Williams conceded at about 7:30 p.m. When the second batch of results was released shortly before 9 p.m., the percentages hadn’t shifted.
The Nigerian descent will succeed Mayor John Suthers, a former federal prosecutor and Colorado attorney general who was term-limited, to become the city’s 42nd mayor.
Mobolade’s decisive victory represents a political earthquake in Colorado Springs, long known as a conservative stronghold. Williams is a Republican while Mobolade is unaffiliated.
“Wow,” said Mobolade as he took the stage with his family at the COS City Hub community center where his watch party was held. “This is our win. We are Colorado Springs. It’s a new day in our beloved city.”
“I think folks were, as indicated by their vote, were looking for something new as opposed to the tried and proven track record and that’s certainly their right to make that decision,” Williams told KRCC at The Pinery event venue where his watch party was held. “Being the top two out of 12 sounds better than being second.”
The Williams campaign noted that while 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl won El Paso County, she lost Colorado Springs.
“It’s clear Colorado Springs is less conservative than it used to be. When I was chairman here (of the El Paso County GOP) we had no Democratic state reps. Now we have three,” Williams said. “So there are significant changes that have taken place and I congratulate Yemi on an excellent campaign.”
When asked if Tuesday night’s results signal a larger change in the political alignment in Colorado Springs, Mobolade said: “I don’t know, I can’t speak to that. But what I can’t speak to is the hunger in our city at this moment in time. The hunger is not one that is partisan, as clearly evident in this room. We have Democrats, Republicans and Independents all gathered.
“The hunger is for vision that transcends political party lines and the tiredness and the frustration in our city and in our nation is around (the) partisan divide and the fighting that happens and people are just ready for a new type of leadership that puts our quality of life ahead of party politics.”
He also noted the city charter calls for the mayor to be non-partisan: “I’m glad that I could restore the spirit of the law that we should be abiding by.”
In the public sector, Mobolade has been an advocate for small businesses with the city. He has worked with the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corp. Mobolade said he sees his new role as an opportunity to “restore public trust in local government.”
Mobolade called his preparation for the runoff his “longest job interview” to prove to the community that he is the leader for the job.
In a survey sent out by KRCC, Mobolade said he would prioritize safety, growth, and the economy.
While Williams gained the endorsement of John Suthers, the outgoing mayor, as well as more than half the current council, Mobolade was able to secure the endorsement of third-place finisher Sallie Clark.